Column: Larson finishes 2nd again, takes over points lead

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Kyle Larson finished second at Phoenix International Raceway and then headed to the beach for a brief family vacation. There was no lamenting his third consecutive runner-up finish because Larson is the current points leader of NASCAR's top series. His positioning atop the standings is almost as good as a trip to victory lane.

Allgaier holds on to win Xfinity, his 1st victory in 5 years

AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Justin Allgaier held on to the lead in a restart with four laps to go and won the NASCAR Xfinity race in scorching heat, his first victory in five years. Allgaier, who took four tires on his Kelley-Earnhardt-Miller Chevrolet in one of the late cautions, held off Ryan Blaney and Erik Jones.

Fresh generation of drivers emerging on NASCAR circuit

AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- The NASCAR kids keep coming on strong. Five of the highest-starting eight drivers in NASCAR's lineup for its Monster Energy Series race on Sunday are 26 or younger. Ryan Blaney, starting next to pole-sitter and teammate Joey Logano on the front row, is 23. Kyle Larson starts in the second row, and he's all of 24.

Erik Jones navigates NASCAR Cup rookie season without father

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- When Erik Jones climbs into his NASCAR Cup Series car Sunday, an important watch will be stowed away in his nearby motorhome. Jones reached the pinnacle of stock-car racing this year amid a void. His father Dave, the watch's owner, died of cancer last year. Since then Jones hasn't gone anywhere without the silver Shinola.

BC-AP Sports Digest

The supervisor is Fred Lief, followed by John Nicholson at 5 p.m. and Jake Seiner at 1 a.m. The New York sports desk can be reached at 800-845-8450, ext. 1630. Sports Photos, ext. 1918; graphics, ext. 7636; agate, ext. 1635. AP stories and accompanying photos also can be obtained from http://www.apexchange.com For reruns, call the Service Desk (800 838-4616) or your local AP bureau. All times EST. TOP STORIES BKC--STAYING CIVIL INDIANAPOLIS -- J.J.

BC-AP Sports Preview Digest

Some of the sports stories The Associated Press is covering Saturday. A full Sports Digest will be sent by about 3 p.m. All times EST: -- Four key conference tournament finals: Big East (Villanova-Creighton, 5:30 p.m.); Big 12 (Iowa State-West Virginia, 6 p.m.); ACC (Duke-Notre Dame, 9 p.m.); Pac-12 (Oregon-Arizona, 11 p.m.). -- INDIANAPOLIS -- Clippers' J.J.

Column: Hype, new format didn't equal must-watch Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- The Daytona 500 was sold out, the grid packed with celebrities, the fan area full of activities including a motorcycle "Ball of Death." Owen "Lightning McQueen" Wilson was on hand, and so was Waka Flocka Flame , Gronk and nearly two dozen women decked out in scantily-clad Monster Energy outfits.

The Latest: Kurt Busch wins Daytona 500 for Stewart-Haas

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- The Latest on the Daytona 500 (all times local): 6:25 p.m. Kurt Busch has won the Daytona 500, surviving a crash-filled season opener to win the race for the first time in 16 tries. Busch passed Kyle Larson final lap before cruising to the victory. Larson ran out gas shortly after passing Chase Elliott, who also came up short on fuel.

NASCAR seeks boost to steep decline with strong Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- The good news for NASCAR is that all signs indicate Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a legitimate shot to win the Daytona 500. A victory for NASCAR's most popular driver, in his return to racing after a concussion sidelined him the second half of last season, would be a massive boost for the sagging series.

Going, going, gone: NASCAR stars starting to step away

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Jeff Gordon is working in the broadcast booth. Carl Edwards is spending time with family. Tony Stewart is hanging out at dirt tracks. Some of NASCAR's biggest stars have stepped away over the last 15 months, a thought-provoking trend that doesn't appear to be ending anytime soon. Gordon (2015) and Stewart (2016) retired from full-time racing in consecutive years, walking away with a combined seven championships.

Truex forced to relive closest 2nd in Daytona 500 history

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Martin Truex Jr. saw his Daytona 500 victory vanish in just a blink of an eye. Eyes open. Eyes shut. One-hundredth of a second, the time it takes lightning to strike the ground. Truex might want to keep his eyes closed for a bit longer around Daytona.

Earnhardt wants to win a title then ride into retirement

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) -- Upon further review, hoisting a championship trophy is exactly how Dale Earnhardt Jr. wants to end his career. NASCAR's most popular driver caused a stir on "The Dan Patrick Show" when he claimed he would immediately retire if he wins the title this year. The statement followed him to media day for the Daytona 500, and there was no question about it. "Hell, yeah.